MRE / MRED programs

ch66220's picture
Rank: Baboon | 116

I am a junior at a public state flagship university (definitely non-target) in the midwest. Double major in finance and accounting, 3.92 GPA. I am very interested in going into real estate development or possibly real estate finance. Internships at State Street Real Estate Services, a REIT and a job at development company doing project management/financial analysis (will have been there a couple of years by the time I graduate). Haven't taken the GMAT yet.

My first question is, do I have any chance of getting into Cornell, Columbia, NYU etc. right out of undergrad? I realize that I have limited experience compared to most of the other applicants. I know NYU more finance-focused and I've heard it's easier to get into, which makes me nervous about job opportunities at the end.

Second question: Should I take the two real estate development classes that are offered in the urban planning department, or just save my money and stick with my business school classes (only real-estate specific class is real estate finance) and hope that my internships and work experience demonstrate my interest in real estate?

Third question: For those who have graduated (or know people who have) from the above programs, what kind of jobs are you/they getting? Was the degree worth it? Do you feel it's a degree that's transferrable out of the NY/Boston area?

Sorry for the long post. I appreciate any input.

Region: 
United States - Midwest
United States - Northeast

Comments (92)

Aug 16, 2016

Why don't you try jumping right into the industry? You seem to have solid experience.

    • 1
Aug 17, 2016
cre_questions:

Why don't you try jumping right into the industry? You seem to have solid experience.

+1 to this

Aug 17, 2016

@CRE is your guy on this one

Best Response
Aug 17, 2016

@ch66220 -

  1. Yes, you probably have a shot, but I wouldn't recommend it. A graduate business degree should be what takes you from the analyst/entry level to the associate/next level. If you go into a MRED/MSRE degree without prior full time experience, no one is going to let you skip a level, so in effect you're going to be paying the same $50k-$100k tuition as your classmates except instead of making $85k+ when you graduate, you'll be making $55k+.
  2. If your interest is in development, you're going to want to understand urban planning - both to know how the "other side" thinks and so that you create proper places, not just throw up random buildings. Development is massively interdisciplinary and is at its simplest a coordination role between architects, planners, city officials, investors, lenders, contractors, designers, consultants, etc. To be effective, you should understand all of these, not in depth, but to a point of intelligent conversation.
  3. I know a couple of Cornell grads/students personally and have interacted with grads from the other programs. All three are great schools. Something you have to remember though is what I said in #1 - these schools will never publish a median salary number or anything like that because there is a clear divide in exit ops between people with experience and people without. They don't target the same companies and/or positions.
    • 5
Aug 17, 2016

All solid points here, and also from Lizard Brain just below. I graduated from Columbia (MSRED) in May, and had ~5 years of experience in the field before going to school.

A couple of points I'll add:

  1. If I had to guess, you probably would get into Columbia if you could pull a decent GMAT. They value grades, GMAT and your drive/passion for the subject. Not necessarily your experience (though I've protested that they should do so more). THAT SAID: you won't get much out of it straight out of UG, and employers won't much care about the degree either. A master's degree is meant to augment experience that you already have, introduce you to people (teachers and other students) who have experience in other parts of your industry, and to help you transition from an analyst/associate roll into something more... substantial. The youngest people in my class, though bright, would've been much better served getting more experience before going back to school.
  2. You're very interested right now as a (presumably) 21-year-old with only a few internships under your belt. An expensive master's degree that's very specialized is worthless if you change your mind, which would be totally reasonable (and arguably very likely) for somebody in your shoes.

With that said, I would strongly recommend that you continue hustling - I can tell you're driven just by the way you've gone about the process thus far - and try to turn one of these internships into a full time position once you graduate. Give it a few years there, and then re-evaluate whether you need (or want!) the master's degree at that time.

Aug 17, 2016

Another thing to consider is your purpose in attending a real estate masters program. Is your reason for considering it right at this moment just to build your foundation and basic real estate knowledge? Speaking from personal experience: I strongly believe anyone going into right out of undergrad will get less out of an MRED program than they would if they already have a few years under their belt in-industry. The reason I say that is because two crucial value components in any real estate masters program are 1) the easy networking, and 2) access to quality real estate faculty, who are typically experienced active/retired industry participants.

If you already have a foundation in real estate, know what you're talking about and know what real estate niche you want to build a career in, 1) your networking efforts during the program are going to be infinitely more productive because they'll be targeted and purposeful, and 2) you'll be more likely to maximize on access to your professor's knowledge. I only did a year in the industry between undergrad and the MRED program I attended, and while I performed well throughout the program (I got honors at graduation), I remember sitting there thinking how I didn't even know what good, nuanced questions to ask, while a lot of my more experienced classmates (average was about 5 or 6 years older than me) were really taking advantage of access to professors (industry participants), the beauty of it being that in a relaxed, open setting, professors could speak freely about their deals, thoughts on the market, managing relationships, deal mishaps, building costs, etc., the kind of stuff you probably won't get out of someone you meet at a commercial real estate cocktail mixer.

Aug 17, 2016

Rounding out the first of three semesters at TAMU right now. Prior to this, I was working for Enterprise (Yes the rental car company) and hated it. Interviewed for an internship at a major bank's CRE group and got it. I'll be better compensated for this internship than I was full-time at my old job, lol.

Overall, I'm very happy that I decided to do this when I did. I know RE is what I want for a career, so the MSRE will be a good terminal degree choice. As far as advice goes, I'd just say network right away, memorize basic RE terms, and above all else, show passion for the field.

    • 1
Aug 17, 2016
jon1987:

Rounding out the first of three semesters at TAMU right now. Prior to this, I was working for Enterprise (Yes the rental car company) and hated it. Interviewed for an internship at a major bank's CRE group and got it. I'll be better compensated for this internship than I was full-time at my old job, lol.

Love this. Congrats on the internship! What will your function be within the group?

Aug 17, 2016

Great to hear the TAMU program is continuing their stellar placement reputation!

Aug 17, 2016

I honestly don't know fully as of yet. For sure some Excel work, at least one client call/site visit, was also told I might work outside of the CRE group too, so I should end up learning a lot.

Aug 17, 2016

Not totally related to step-stoning from job to job, but:

I graduated from a top-ranked, one-year, full-time MSRED program two years ago. You're on the right track with networking. What I'll say is - be thoughtful about how you present yourself. It should go without saying but really, try to be knowledgeable, don't be stuck up, treat others professionally, contribute in class, be open to conversation, cut loose when its appropriate, and pull your weight during group work. The point being i) that your classmates will notice and remember these things - this is a small industry, and 5, 10, 15 years down the road, when I (and others from my class) come across the bums from our program, we will remember them as just that, bums. Conversely, we will remember the smart guys as being people that we'd want to work with or wouldn't be afraid making introductions to. And ii) faculty and program administration will notice and, if you're polished, will be significantly more likely to open the gates to industry connections, which I would imagine is a factor in your decision to pursue the degree.

Aug 17, 2016
Blue Star:

Not totally related to step-stoning from job to job, but:

<

p>I graduated from a top-ranked, one-year, full-time MSRED program two years ago.

What is your definition of top ranked? I'd probably go:

Tier 1: Cornell and MIT
Tier 1a: NYU, Columbia, Georgetown, USC, Hopkins,Texas A&M, and probably a few others I left out.

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Aug 17, 2016

I wouldn't disagree with your list except for bumping up USC. I'm biased, but seriously, it's an extremely athletic program and the only school one could fairly claim is a powerhouse in real estate on the West Coast / Southwest. The USC cult runs deep in real estate, in a region where few schools compete.

Aug 17, 2016

USC cult in LA/OC is insane

Aug 17, 2016

I do not think NYU MSRE is as good as A&M or Columbia from what I've heard/seen, those two probably belong in 1a with the remainder at tier 2.

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Aug 17, 2016

Yes, MSRED would be better. You'll get more hands on there and be able to dive into the construction side to have a better understanding of that. The finance route is perfect for REPE - but I would avoid that if that's not the way you want to go.

I definitely wouldn't encourage you to go into a Master's program without ever taking the GMAT. If anything you should blow the GMAT away, show them that through your experience and your awesome gmat score you're more than capable of handling the stress of the program. That should alleviate their concerns about your undergraduate GPA. In the end of the day for a program like that you're going to need to shine in 2/3 of these key areas:

  1. Job experience & Letters of Recommendation
  2. Undergraduate GPA/Quality of School
  3. Test Scores
Aug 17, 2016

I have heard the NYU Finance route is very Finance heavy which obviously makes sense compared to the Development route which you get some financial aspect but a good grasp of nuts and bolts. Do not know how true this is. Would love to be in a Development & Acquisitions type role or even AM with a developer. I assume an MSRED is best for this. I know there's Columbia too, but I really do not want to take a year off from working as it's only offered full time.

Baruch has a program as well, but I honestly did some due diligence on LinkedIn and I am finding barely anyone in prominent positions who got there MSRE there. To me, there's no reason why an investor/developer would take a Baruch guy when there's thousands of NYU/Columbia guys just down the street. Positive though, is it's nearly half the price.

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Aug 17, 2016

+1 on doing well on the GMAT. If your grades are bad they'll weigh on this even more heavily.

Aug 17, 2016

You can 100% get into most MSRE/MRED programs with bad grades and/or bad test scores. I would spend a lot more time on networking with professionals and your story for adcoms.

Aug 17, 2016

I'm in a very similar situation. I hope to go to NYU for my MSRE full-time starting Fall 2017. 3.1 GPA from a Top 50 (but not great) state school and have worked as an analyst at one of the big brokerages in debt/equity placement not in NYC. I haven't taken the GMAT and plan to talk to an admissions officer within the next week to find out more. Any advise is appreciated though.

Aug 17, 2016

Better GPA than mine lol

Aug 17, 2016

What kind of on campus recruiting is there at NYU? Is it as strong as on-campus recruiting is for their MBA program? From what I have read it seems a lot of finding a job is left up to you

Aug 17, 2016

I am interested as well. I am finishing my Real Estate Development certificate at UCLA Extension. I spoke with a recruiter at Pepperdine's MSRE Program and he said it would help because it shows my initiative to learn more about real estate. He said it's most important to say "I learned x y and z from this program". In his words it's an extra bonus item.

"The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary." - Nassim Taleb

Previously Malta Monkey

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Aug 17, 2016

I took classes at UCLA extension, and they were helpful for me toward landing an analyst job. The Argus class was good, and I enjoyed a few classes I took from Todd Weaver .

Aug 17, 2016

I would caution against certificates--they aren't very well-regarded by employers and can be expensive. Spend a couple of years in brokerage, and demonstrate your commitment to the industry outside of your office by joining ULI and other relevant real estate organizations you can actively participate in. With 2+ years of experience and solid extracurricular industry involvement your undergrad grads will matter a lot less. If you are looking to enhance your modeling skills and knowledge take one of the GETREFM courses and buy a used copy of Linneman's real estate finance textbook.

    • 5
Aug 17, 2016

Yes, save the money. If you have a REPE acquisitions job you are already ahead of 75% of the pool of typical MSRE grad degree students. That job should be more than enough to get you in the door assuming you didn't go to Devry. A lot of these programs need to cover their costs by boosting enrollments, where they take on a decent amount of riffraff (people straight out of undergrad, those with no real estate experience, etc.)...having experienced people in relevant industry jobs is a big selling point for admissions officers.

    • 1
Aug 17, 2016

Hey Ricky,
Thank you for the information. I am finishing up my Undergrad Business Degree from a super non-target state school, am currently doing UCLA's Extension Program, have done the REFM Modeling courses, and read up on RE Finance through purchasing textbooks. I recently joined the ULI and am becoming a more active member in it. I also work in Residential Brokerage while going to school.
My concern is that I'm doing a lot of "looked down upon" and smaller things to help boost me up. My hope is all these small things will add up.
Can I get your advice on anything more I can be doing? I have been looking into MSRE/MRED Programs to "compensate" for not going to a more prestigious school.My goal is to work on in Development (specifically Hospitality, but am open for any asset class). I would definitely appreciate your input! Thank you in advance.

"The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary." - Nassim Taleb

Previously Malta Monkey

Aug 17, 2016

I'm applying to NYU MSRE (want to move to NYC and don't want to work in development) for full-time starting Fall '17. Gathering recommendations and finishing up personal statement now. Anyone in the program want to give the good and bad?

Aug 17, 2016

where are you moving from? and do you want to settle down in NYC?

Aug 17, 2016

Was admitted to Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Clemson, and Maryland in 2015. Happy to talk.

WSO has a decent community of MSRE/MRED students/grads.

Aug 17, 2016

Looking back, are you glad you pursued an MSRE instead of an MBA? How was the workload if you went full-time? What are you post-grad plans (if you're still attending)?

Aug 17, 2016

Only some schools offer MBAs with a concentration in RE, most will offer it with a concentration in Finance though. MSRED & a MBA sounds a little over kill to me, but I don't even have a masters. Most MBAs are 2 years and most MSREDs are 1 year. If I remember correctly, a couple weeks ago you were asking about a dual degree JD/ MBA program. I wouldn't fret so much about getting a dual masters degree, I'd say the majority of people I know in RE only have under grad degrees, and the ones with advanced degrees usually top out at either M of Architecture, MBA, MSRED. MSF or JD, haven't noticed many if any combinations.

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Aug 17, 2016

First, Cornell and USC will put you in two completely different realms (Cornell on the East and USC on the West). Choose the school where you want to work post-MBA.

Second, to work at Blackstone you will need a lot more than an MBA + MRED. They care a lot more about your work experience than an MBA. In fact, less than 1/3 of their team has an MBA (based on what an MD told me). Most of the top REPE firms will want to see prior real estate experience.

Aug 17, 2016

I would take Cornell, especially if you are interested in opportunities in NYC or on the East Coast. A Cornell degree could still get you job opportunities on the West Coast if you still want to go down that path.

Long-term you will make more money in REPE than in REIB, especially as you get equity in deals and increase in rank. The great thing about REPE is that a REIB background is not completely necessary like it is in regular PE, but at the same time doing REIB could not hurt.

Aug 17, 2016

I'll get back to you once I get my GMAT score

Aug 17, 2016

While I'm not applying this year I will (most likely) be applying to a MSRED program next year. Since I am Manhattan bound and don't wish to leave that only gives me two options. Columbia and NYU, we'll have to see how my GMAT comes in to see where I am going as I believe my work experience if definitely good enough to get into Columbia.

I would love to hear from anyone who's done Columbia's MSRED program.

Aug 17, 2016
SHB:

I would love to hear from anyone who's done Columbia's MSRED program.

While MIT is probably THE #1 MSRED school, Columbia is undoubtedly MY #1 MSRED school.

The program is full of finance people and architects, giving it a really awesome blend of strategic and creative, which development ultimately is. I feel like doing a group project there actually would be rewarding because of the different things different people bring to the group, as opposed to nonsensical bullshit, like most group projects.

Aug 17, 2016

Might get flamed here, but my understanding is:

Tier 1A- MIT
Tier 1B- Columbia, USC

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Aug 17, 2016
larry david:

Might get flamed here, but my understanding is:

Tier 1A- MITTier 1B- Columbia, USC

Are these MSRE or MSRED? Generally, do MSREDs place just as well into REPE/Acquisitions?

Aug 17, 2016

Cornell?

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Aug 17, 2016
larry david:

Might get flamed here, but my understanding is:

Tier 1A- MITTier 1B- Columbia, USC

Yeah, you mostly just pulled that out of your ass

    • 1
Aug 17, 2016

The real answer is there are no "tiers." Obviously some schools are better than others (MIT, Cornell, Columbia, Georgetown, USC, etc.) , but all these programs are far too different (length, focus, tracks, geographic location, geographic range, classes, alumni base, the actual program itself, etc.) to compare apples to apples. You can't think of these programs how you would think of MBA programs.

The best way to go about finding a program for you, whether it's a MSRE, MRED, or a MBA, is to find where you want to work, see where the people working there went to school, and go to that type of school. A lot of big name NYC REPE shops, for example, want you to have a Harvard or Wharton MBA, so debating Columbia or NYU's master of real estate programs doesn't matter.

Find a program that places into jobs you want in a city you want to live in. That's all there is.

    • 3
Aug 17, 2016

Array

Aug 17, 2016

The pay in real estate related fields is pretty crappy, unless you work for a well regarded REPE firm.

You don't get into real estate to make a lot of money as a salaried and bonus-ed employee. You get in to learn the skills, understand the process, and to become an entrepreneur.

Aug 17, 2016

RE development pay is not sexy at all unless you get a slice of carried interest. Until you get equity participation in your company or your own deals structured with some kind of promote i would be surprised if you pulled in more than 150k annually. there is a thread on here on development analyst compensation--most range from 60-90k depending on experience/location/etc.

i think development salaries are misleading because a senior dev guy at tishman may have a 200k base salary, but what you don't see are the stock options/ownership units/carried interest sharing agreements that they are most likely subject to.

    • 1
Aug 17, 2016
Virginia Tech 4ever:

The pay in real estate related fields is pretty crappy, unless you work for a well regarded REPE firm.

You don't get into real estate to make a lot of money as a salaried and bonus-ed employee. You get in to learn the skills, understand the process, and to become an entrepreneur.

I'm struggling to see how anyone could disagree with this. Do you MS throwers really think that RE is a highly compensated career field for people who aren't at the very top of the pyramid/owners?

Aug 17, 2016

Support / +1 to Virginia Tech on this point.

There are far more professionals (accountants, attorneys, etc) making more on average, substantially more, (makes sense as there is a constrained supply of these folks with specialized knowledge and who paid like atty 180k to get that background plus licensure) than most low to mid tier re "employees" (the key word here).

I am sure most seasoned wso folks agree that the real money comes as tip-top execs who get skin in the game and the entrepreneurs who are all skin (and risk it all to be so).

Aug 17, 2016

Somewhat agree. Major Brokers' producers make killings however.

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Aug 17, 2016

Brokers are not "salaried" imo. They are more entrepreneurs

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Aug 17, 2016

Pay in real estate varies wildly across functions and firms. Development is generally not one of the higher paying parts of the business. Having said that, learning about real estate at a top developer is a very good starting point and can lead to a lucrative career either at an investment shop or as an independent player (an entrepreneur). If you join the likes of a Tishman Speyer, Related or Hines you can expect to make a decent salary but only the very senior people who get carry or phantom equity in projects make any significant money to speak of.

I personally started out with a short stint at major developer and it served me extremely well once I got to REPE.

Aug 17, 2016

It's Johns Hopkins...

Aug 17, 2016
welcome2nyc:

With the exception of MIT, Do you think any MS Real Estate programs open doors in real estate investment banking??

For example, NYU, John Hopkins, Columbia, USC???

not really

employers in the USA don't really understand what an MS is, it's either BBA or MBA for them.

you are better off doing an MS Finance anyways

Aug 17, 2016
Affirmative_Action_Walrus:
welcome2nyc:

With the exception of MIT, Do you think any MS Real Estate programs open doors in real estate investment banking??

For example, NYU, John Hopkins, Columbia, USC???

not really

employers in the USA don't really understand what an MS is, it's either BBA or MBA for them.

you are better off doing an MS Finance anyways

I think they like BSBA better than BBA, more quantitative skills and less history~

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Banker: "Where's me Bonus?"
Yuppie: "Whadya mean I have to actually work?"
Fox Rock Mum: "Lidl's the place to be seen in now!"
Cowen: "It's not my fault that me and my party are complete f**k-ups - it's the recession silly!"

Aug 17, 2016

Disagree with the above poster, check out USC's website, they post who hires out of their program, a couple of years ago in the boom every big name real estate private equity fund and every IB hired out of USC. Even now I'm sure people with good experience prior to their MS are getting great banking jobs. I think USC is only one year.

Aug 17, 2016

It depends what you mean by "real estate investment banking." If you want to do M&A with a BB in the real estate group, a one-year MSRED program won't get you there. I paired up my MSRED with an MBA, and that's how I was able to break in.

If you're talking about capital raising for real estate transactions and JVs (typically working for smaller shops), then it's doable.

I discount hiring during times of extreme boom. Back during the dotcom days, you had history and english majors who had no idea what financial statements were getting jobs working for BB firms. I doubt you'll see that again.

Aug 17, 2016
kjl:

It depends what you mean by "real estate investment banking." If you want to do M&A with a BB in the real estate group, a one-year MSRED program won't get you there. I paired up my MSRED with an MBA, and that's how I was able to break in.

If you're talking about capital raising for real estate transactions and JVs (typically working for smaller shops), then it's doable.

I discount hiring during times of extreme boom. Back during the dotcom days, you had history and english majors who had no idea what financial statements were getting jobs working for BB firms. I doubt you'll see that again.

kjl,

can you elaborate on your career track starting from undergrad, into your current role? which schools did you attend?

Aug 17, 2016

also interested in some more info about a ms in real estate if anyone has some more input

Aug 17, 2016

If you've been working 3 years at least, hit up MIT's MSRED program. If not, check into Columbia's.

Either that, man, or use your commissions to buy your own properties and put your money to work for you. That's what all the principal brokers here do and even some others. Gets them that monthly income while they swing for the fences.

I don't think an MSRED is a step backwards at all. I would use it as a transition out of brokerage for sure. Development is where the real money is.

Aug 17, 2016

Development in the long run is definitely where the money (and risk) is. I have heard at the analyst and associate levels the pay is poor compared to REPE / REIB / REIT.

Aug 17, 2016

why not do both?

Aug 17, 2016

A lot of people now a days are getting the masters in RE or RE development. It's only going to benefit you and will help you learn things you wouldn't learn on your own. Also, its fantastic for networking.

Aug 17, 2016

im currently in a major market that doesnt have a top 3-5 real estate program, and feel like that makes a big difference for an MSRED. my concern is that while CRE is largely an experience-based business, leasing pigeonholes you in your respective product (be it retail, office, industrial) pretty quickly. my opportunity is for a lot of responsibility working deals and making a lot of money, but what good is that if all you can do is master negotiation of a lease document?

Aug 17, 2016

Although I haven't done this, and don't plan on doing it, I have heard from others that a MSRED is generally not worth it unless you're coming from another field in real estate or outside of real estate altogether. In development nothing beats hands on experience and thus a MSRED is a waste of time - most real estate developers I know go on to get general MBAs in order to be more well-rounded managers and business people. Just my two cents...

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Aug 17, 2016

I can speak a little to this experience. I graduated undergrad and currently work for that same developer. I've considered going to an MRED program but ultimately there's not a lot that can be learned there that I don't learn on the job. The construction materials classes would probably be the one class that really teaches me a lot.

As said above, a lot of those who work for developers will go the MBA route in order to be more well rounded. To be honest, if you're looking to be a developer a masters isn't going to hurt you in any way, but the best way to do it is just by doing it if that makes sense? However, if you want to go into REPE or some other route then that MBA is useful.

Ultimately the MRED programs are great for teaching real estate but they're even more important because in RE your biggest asset is your contacts. Not sure I'd personally want to pay $40-60k a year to get contacts that I can make every day in the workplace.

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Aug 17, 2016

That makes sense. I was asking because I couldn't find any examples online of someone who had left a development role to pursue a masters in development, whereas there are plenty of examples of finance roles leaving to pursue an MBA. It also seems like those in development are judged less on pedigree and more on experience, like y'all pointed out.

Anyways, that was helpful. Thanks y'all.

Aug 17, 2016

I attended a MSRE program after working in RE development/investment/consulting for 4 years. If you want to work at a a large shop like Trammell Crow, Hines, Forest City, etc... it may be useful to have the masters but if you lateral into a smaller development or REPE shop the experience is likely more valuable than the degree. I'm glad I got my degree but I honestly didnt learn much after working in RE for several years.

Aug 17, 2016

Really difficult without you having a badass GMAT score to overcome your GPA, but I assume you overcame it to get your current job, correct?

(This is someone who overcame a bad, but not quite as bad, GPA to get his current job in CRE)

Aug 17, 2016
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